Evviva Weintraub Lajoie, Vice Provost for University Libraries hosts our virtual book club exclusively for Loyal Blues.
You’ll have the opportunity to connect with alumni and friends from around the country, all while having an expert educator guide you through several books annually.
Though it may feel like you have already experienced 100 years of solitude during this challenging time, I invite you to escape into a wonderful and colorful book, which happens to be one of my personal favorites.
Probably García Márquez’s finest and most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, alive with unforgettable men and women, and with a truth and understanding that strike the soul, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a masterpiece of the art of fiction.
There is no cost to participate. Simply purchase a copy of the book and sign up below to receive emails. This title is available as an audiobook, though a variety of vendors as an eBook, and also through the Public Library through Overdrive. If you have trouble finding a copy, just let us know.
Once you've signed up, you will receive periodic emails to guide you through the reading period, which will run from April 3 until May 15. You can also join our Facebook Forum to discuss the book and post questions. We'll conclude with an interactive online discussion with Evviva.
1. The beginning of this novel is considered one of the most fabulous openers in the history of literature. What do you like about it? Why do you think it's considered to be so unique?
2. Consider the opening chapter. How do you feel it sets up the novel? What do you learn about Macondo that is important? What do you learn about the author's style?
3. What is the significance of the fact that Macondo is surrounded by water and hidden from the rest of the world? How does this fact impact the way you read the events that happen in Macondo? Do you see similarities between Macondo and other historic or literary places?
4. In the first chapter, we are introduced to José Arcadio and Aureliano. These two names are then passed down from one generation to the next throughout the history of the Buendía family. Read carefully the way each is described. What can you take from the information García Márquez has provided you about each type of man?
5. What is the significance of the fact that in this novel, ice is considered the "greatest invention of our time?" What does this say about Macondo or its culture?
6. The gypsies return to Macondo with each spring season. Why is this significant? How do you read the gypsies are different from or similar to the inhabitants of Macondo?
7. Plagues that have affected humanity throughout the ages have been diseases that impact the body. What is the significance of the fact that the insomnia plague is a plague of the intellect? How do you read the fact that even though they can't sleep, the inhabitants of Macondo don't die?
8. What do you make of the ghosts that crop up in the first part of this novel?
9. José Arcadio Buendía doesn't die, but at the end of Part One he ceases to participate in the activities of his family— his wife essentially takes his place at the head of the family. Why do you think this happens? How do you feel about the way it happens?
1. We discover that Father Nicanor Reyna, who has come to Macondo to officiate Aureliano's wedding, can levitate when he eats chocolate. What do you think this episode might represent in the broader context of the novel? How is it written to seem real? How is it written to seem fantastic?
2. Why do you think Rebeca repeatedly postpones her wedding after the death of Remedios? What does she gain—if anything—from the community by remaining single? What do you make of her choices?
3. What do you make of the "mad operation," undertaken by table knives and tools, commanded by Aureliano as the chapter ends? What do we learn about war in Macondo or war in general? What does it reveal about Aureliano's character?
4. Consider the episode of Arcadio's death. What do you make of his calmness at the end and his final pronouncement?
5. What do you think about the fact that Colonel Aureliano Buendía escapes the firing squad and seems to have "nine lives?" How is the plight of Aureliano portrayed convincingly throughout this section of the book?
6. Think about the character of Úrsula. In the first section of our reading, you learn of her strength and cunning. How does that continue to show itself throughout the book? In what ways is Úrsula innovative? If she is the natural Matriarch of the family, what decisions does she make that you agree with? Does she make any that you disagree with or are confused by?
7. During this section, what do you learn about the Liberal Party? What is its importance in the community of Macondo?
8. Why does Amaranta never marry? Especially, why does she reject Pietro Crespi after she has yearned for him for years? Is there any religious meaning to her virginity?
9. Consider the role of Colonel Gerineldo Márquez. Why do you think the author gives this man his namesake and not the rest of the Buendía family? What is his place in the structure of the novel?
1. Consider the role the ghost of Melquíades plays in the lives of all the Buendías that he continues to visit after he dies—especially Aureliano Segundo and Aureliano (II). Link this with the "traffic of the dead" that passes through Macondo. What do the ghosts have in common?
2. Spend some time thinking about all the different kinds of love that exist in the novel. Are there loves that seem to transcend the ravages of everyday life, warfare, history, and time itself? What kind of love is the most prevalent?
3. How is old age treated in this novel? Do you feel that a person's place in the Buendía family changes as they grow old? How is their wisdom utilized by the community, and how could it possibly be utilized better? Do you think the characters themselves changed as they aged?
4. Do you feel any of the characters "learn" from their mistakes or heartaches? If so, who and in what ways?
5. The narrator states on page 213, "Remedios the Beauty was not a creature of this world." What sets her apart from the other Buendías? Are there any other literary characters that she reminds you of?
6. Consider the icons of female beauty and power used throughout the book. In what ways do you consider the female characters to be strong—and similarly, how do they appear weaker or more fragile than the male characters?
7. Think about the many jubilees, festivals and other kinds of celebration that occur in Macondo. Do there seem to be more of them in these pages than there were at the beginning of the book? If so, why do you think that might be?
8. "The innocent yellow train that was to bring so many ambiguities and certainties, so many pleasant and unpleasant moments, so many changes, calamities, and feelings of nostalgia to Macondo" blows into town on page 239. Put this into context with your general knowledge of progress in Macondo. Did you have a feeling of elation or foreboding when the train/banana company first arrived?
9. Consider the significance of Úrsula's decision to raise José Arcadio (IV) to be the next Pope. What does this say about her, and why does she do it? What does his "reaction" to his schooling say about him? How do you think it plays into other religious elements in the novel?
10. So far, which character do you connect with most strongly? Think about the three things you like about that character most. What do you think this character says about human nature, morality, family, or life in general?
1. Consider the lasting impact of Meme's love affair with Mauricio Babilonia. What do his lingering yellow butterflies represent? What do you think about the way love seems to derail some of the Buendías, including Meme?
2. Think about the banana strike. What details do you find interesting about the way García Márquez portrays it? Does what happened seem realistic to you? If not, why do you think it doesn't?
3. Take some time to consider the way that the government has changed or developed over the course of the novel. Do you feel that the way the Buendía family is "governed" has shifted? Do they have less or more power than they did in the beginning of the book?
4. "It rained for four years, eleven months and two days." What does the rain represent?
5. What about the culture or the family seems to be in decline during the final portion of the book? What is "decline" and how, specifically, is it manifested?
6. Talk about the deaths of many of the substantial characters. What is similar about the ways they die? What do you think the way death is portrayed in this novel says about the author's view of life and death?
7. Think about Aureliano and Amaranta Úrsula's love affair in terms of how it's different from other love in the book and also the same. What does the fact that they give birth to the fabled last of the line say about their affair? How do they, together and separately, carry on the spirit of the Buendías?
8. Consider how Nigromanta is the natural successor to Pilar Ternera's domain in the novel. In what ways are the two characters similar? In what ways are the different?
9. Why do you believe that this novel is important for people to read? If you were going to recommend it to a friend, what would you say to persuade him or her to read it?
10. What about the final paragraph. How did it make you feel?
Have a book that you think might be interesting for the book club to read? Drop us a note and we'll add it to our list of recommendations.